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Novel-writing and Novel-reading

Brownson's Quarterly Review, January, 1848
Art. III. - Pauline Seward : A Tale of Real Life. By John D. Bryant. Baltimore: J. Murphy. 1S47. 2 vols. 12mo.
We gave a brief notice of this work in our Review for April last, and an explanation of that notice in the number fol­lowing ; but as neither the notice nor the explanation appears to have satisfied the author, and as it affords us an occasion for throwing out some additional hints on novel-writing and novel-reading, we venture to approach it again ; and, this time, we hope, whether we succeed in pleasing its author or not, that we shall succeed in convincing our readers that we have not rashly or wantonly censured it.
Our brief notice appeared in an article entitled Recent Pub­lications, and it must be obvious to all who have done us the honor to read that article, that., Pauline Seward, and the other works named at its head, were made merely an occasion for ofFering some comments on certain dangerous tendencies in a portion of our Catholic community. Nothing was farther from the intention of the writer than to make those works the prin­cipal subject of his strictures ; and nothing he said should, or, in fairness, can be, understood as intended to apply to them, except what is expressly so applied. They were introduced because they were to be noticed, and because they afforded an easy transition to the spirit and tendency on which the writer proposed to remark. When they had served that purpose, they were dismissed, save so far as they encouraged, or did nothing to counteract, what was looked upon as censurable. Undoubt­edly, in the article itself, there are many strictures which would be far from just, if applied to Pauline Seioard, or to any one of the other publications unfavorably noticed ; but we did not so apply them, and, if the authors have done so, it is their fault, not ours. Authors are bound to be just, as well as reviewers.
It is true, we assume, throughout our article, that Pauline Seward, and the other works censured, spring from and con­form to the spirit and tendency of the age and country ; but we have no reason to suppose that the authors themselves dis­pute this, or regard it as a reproach. Mr. Bryant publicly advocates religious novels, on the very ground that " the spirit of the age demands them " ; that is, as we understand him, on the ground that they are in harmony with that spirit. No well-instructed Catholic can read the works referred to, without feeling and recognizing the truth of our assumption. But it was precisely to this we chiefly objected. We contended, that Catholic works, instead of being inspired by and con­forming to the age and country, as distinguishable from the Church, must be written in the true Catholic spirit, which is always a spirit of uncompromising hostility to every spirit but itself. We were certainly wrong in our strictures, if the standard for a Catholic writer is to be taken from the domi­nant ideas and sentiments of his age and country ; but if it is to be taken from the Church, we were certainly right,'-unless we mistook the character of the works censured; - and the authors, in complaining of us, do but condemn themselves.
When it was our misfortune and our shame to be in the ranks of Protestants, and to advocate, as we did, in season and out of season, for some twenty years, the modern doctrine of progress, we held that the standard to which one is to conform is always to be taken from the spirit and tendency of each successive age, as modified by one's own particular nation. This spirit and tendency are never stationary, but always moving onwards to some point not yet reached. Hence, we professed always to be of the " movement party." With it were all our sympathies ; in it were all our hopes.
What tended to aid it onward, we for that reason approved ; what tended to arrest or retard it, we for that reason con­demned, and resisted as well as we could. But when Al­mighty God, in his great mercy, was pleased to open our eyes to behold the beauty and loveliness of his immaculate Spouse, and through his unbounded grace, without any merits of our own, to permit us to be enrolled among his children, we were taught, that, instead of taking our standard from the spirit and tendency of the age, we must take it from the Church herself. The Church is invariable and permanent,- speaking always and everywhere the same language, and breathing the same spirit,- representing, on the movable and ever-changing scene of the world, the authority of the immovable, immutable, and eternal God. Whatever is variable, mutable, changing from people to people, and from age to age, is not of her, is in fact opposed to her, and to be resisted. So we were taught; and, being so taught, we could not understand any concord or alliance be­tween the Church and the spirit and tendency of the age or country, regarded as external to her ; and we therefore felt, that, if we would be a Catholic, we must not only not conform to them, but resist them, and wage with them a stern and un­compromising war.
Before our conversion, we had studied both history and phi­losophy, especially the philosophy of history, civil and eccle­siastical ; and we had been accustomed always to take sides with heretics against the Church, for we found them invariably the movement party of their age and country. Heresies, we said, originate in the spirit and tendency of their epoch, and in the effort to develop the Church, and carry her, in her doctrines and practice, along with them. We have seen no reason to reject or modify this view, which, moreover, the modern phi­losophers of Germany and France have clearly demonstrated and firmly established. The heresiarch does not set out with the deliberate intention of founding a heresy. No man ever rises up, and, with deliberate forethought, says, -" Goto, now, let us devise and found a heresy." The heresiarch is the man of his times, - o/, not for, his times, - and is the one who, better than any other, embodies or impersonates their dom­inant ideas and sentiments. He begins by taking his standard of truth from the ideas and sentiments which he finds gener­ally received, and with which he is filled to overflowing ; these, he says, are true, and therefore the Church, if true, must agree with them.   He then proceeds to develop the Church, - to explain her doctrines and practice in their sense. But the Church cannot accept his explanations ; she condemns them, and commands him to disavow them ; but he, through pride and obstinacy, refuses, goes out from her communion, and sets up for himself. Here is the history of the rise of every heresy. Study any age or nation, and you will find its pecu­liar heresy to have originated in the attempt to conform the Church to its dominant ideas and sentiments, or to incorporate them into her teaching and practice. This is evident from the history of Gnosticism, Manichteism, Arianism, Protestantism, or any other heresy you may select. What is Lamennaism but the attempt to develop the Church, in the sense of the dom­inant socialism of the day ? What is Hermesianism but an attempt to do the same, in the sense of the dominant philoso­phy of our times, especially in Germany ? Kvery age, every nation, necessarily seeks by all its force to develop Chris­tianity, in the sense of its own dominant ideas and sentiments ; and, in every age and nation, the Church is obliged to be on her guard against it. And it is only by her constant vigilance, and her stem and uncompromising resistance to it, that she preserves the original deposit of faith, and transmits it from people to people, and from age to age, untarnished, unaltered, without addition and without diminution.
if we are right in this, - and what Catholic will say we are not? - the genuine Catholic studies always and everywhere, not to conform his Church to his age and country, but them to her. in them are always the seminal principles of heresy, which only wait the fitting opportunity to germinate and bear their poisonous fruit ; in her alone is the true Catholic spirit, which, developed, ripens into the saint. The only conform­ity the Church can practise is that of shaping her prac­tical measures so as, amid all the changes around her, to maintain her own independence, freedom, and vigor of action, and so as the most effectually to resist and overcome their evil influence. We are not so simple as to suppose, that, in saying this, we are saying any thing new or wonderful, or any thing which every Catholic does not know, at least as well as we ; but we do suppose that we are stating an important truth, one not to be disregarded without incalculable evil, and which the whole force of every age and nation tends directly to make us disregard, or at least to misapprehend ; therefore, a truth which needs to be constantly repeated, and guarded with the most jealous eye by all the faithful.   Nothing can be more hurtful to Catholic life, and therefore destructive to the souls of men, than to neglect it. What, then, ought to be said of works which spring from forgetfulness of it, which are inspired by the spirit of the times, and therefore, as far as their influence goes, tend to strengthen the great enemy which the Church is obliged ever to combat ? They strengthen what is always too strong. Breathing the spirit of the times, chiming in with popular ideas and sentiments, they excite in the great majority of the faithful no alarm ; they seem sound and orthodox, and their deadly poison is sucked in without the least suspicion. Works which assail popular ideas and sentiments have com­paratively little power to do harm, for the public is on their guard against them. The danger comes from those works which give expression to what is already working in the public mind, which appeal to what the public are predisposed to adopt and accept, and appear to give a religious sanction to what is already strongly desired. Is a Catholic reviewer to be censured for cautioning the public against such works ? and are their authors to regard themselves as outraged, if he ven­tures to tell them that their works do harm, that they should either not write at all or write different works, - works which, instead of aiding the development of tendencies already pop­ular, and exposing their readers to all dangerous influences, shall tend to arm them to resist them ? Does he, in this, transcend his legitimate province ?
So much we have thought proper to say, that our readers may understand our general principle of criticism as a Cath­olic reviewer. The Church is our rule of art, as well as of faith and morals. In proceeding to the special consideration of the work before us, we repeat, from our former notice, that we by no means consider Pauline Seward as the worst of its class, but, in fact, one of the least objectionable. It is, as we then said, the most interesting and the least objectionable of any of the Catholic novels written on this side the water that have appeared since Father Rowland. It is not without solid merit ; it contains much valuable instruction, many judicious re­flections, and several well-merited censures and well-timed re­bukes. Nevertheless, it has some grave faults, and principally faults into which the author has fallen, as it seems to us, in consequence of not knowing, or not considering, that between religion and the secular spirit there is, and can be, no other re­lation than that of uncompromising hostility.
We do not complain specially of the author for having so far conformed to the fashion of the day as to borrow from it the form of his work. There are works which are sometimes, though not properly, called novels, to which we do not object, nay, which we prize very highly. An author is not censur­able for choosing the form of a fictitious narrative, and he may often do so with great propriety and effect. But the " novel of instruction," as it is called, designed to set forth a partic­ular doctrine, system, or theory, whether sacred or profane, in an artistic point of view, is, in our judgment, always objec­tionable. The form of the novel is never proper in those works which are addressed specially to the understanding, and is allowable only in those designed rather to move and please than to enlighten and convince. The novel must always have a story, a plot of some sort, from which its interest arises, and in which it centres. But the interest of a story is diverse from the interest excited by a logical discussion, and not com­patible with it. The one demands action, movement, is im­patient of delay, and hurries on to the end; the other demands quiet, repose, and suffers only the intellect to be active. It is impossible to combine them both in one and the same piece so as to produce unity of effect.
Especially is this true of what are called religious novels. The aim of these novels is to combine a story of profane love with an argument for religion. But the distance between the interest of such a story and that of a theological discussion is much greater than the distance between it and that of any secu­lar or profane discussion. No two interests are more widely separated, or less capable of coalescing, than the interest of pro­fane love and that of religion. Persons in love, or taken up with love-tales, are in the worst possible disposition to listen to an argument for religion, or to appreciate the sublime and beau­tiful truths of the Gospel. Love is a partial frenzy, and lovers are always only just this side of madness. Reason is silenced, and passion is mistress. The only religion lovers can under­stand or relish is the religion of the natural sentiments and af­fections, that is to say, no religion at all. Nothing is more absurd tha'n for a novelist to mingle in his work a story of pro­fane love and a story of religious conversion, two things which will no more mix than oil and water.
Every subject should be allowed to speak in its own nat­ural language. The natural language of the understanding, and therefore of all works primarily intended for it, is prose. The novel, though unrhymed, is not properly a prose composition ; it belongs, according to the critics, to the department of poetry, and should, therefore, conform to the essential laws of poetry. The primary object of poetry is, not to instruct, but to move and please. It addresses the sentiments, affec­tions, imagination, rather than the understanding. Whenever the author reverses this, and seeks, under the poetical form, first of all to instruct, to bring out a theory, or to defend a doctrine, he ceases to be the genuine poet, and becomes the doctor or philosopher, and fails to preserve the requisite congruity be­tween the matter and the form of his work. Most readers, we apprehend, find even Dryden's Hind and Panther a heavy book, notwithstanding its brilliant imagination, keen wit, various learning, sound and deep theology. No one can read The Disowned, Paul Clifford, Rienzi, or The Last of the Barons, by Bulwer, without feeling the author's moralizing and philos­ophising an annoyance, however much he may admire them in themselves considered. They retard the action of the piece, and are usually skipped by the reader. An author may introduce variety, even diversity, in the same piece, but never at random. He has no room for caprice. The diverse el­ements he addresses must be of the same general group, and capable of coalescing and conspiring to unity of effect. He must follow the law and adhere to the relations which Nature herself establishes.
Let it not be supposed, that, in objecting to the heterogene­ous compound of profane love and theology in the same piece, or to the " novel of instruction," that we are contending that all works should be grave and didactic. Poetry has its place as well as prose. The Holy Ghost has not disdained to ad­dress us in the language of poetry, and the Church adopts it when she chants the praises of the Most High. iEsthetic works may be as desirable and as profitable as logical works. There is no essential element of human nature that needs to be neglected, or that may not be legitimately addressed. On this point we have no quarrel with novelists or poets. That all the elements of our nature may be turned to a religious ac­count, and made to work in the service of God, is no doubt true ; and here we agree perfectly with the religious novelist. His aim is to enlist our whole aesthetic nature in the service of religion. This is a just and noble aim ; and, so far as he gives us works which realize it, we applaud him and com­mend them.
But here is the point on which we are liable to err, and on which all our religious novelists, properly so called, do err, and fatally err.     Let us see if we can understand the matter. The novel belongs to the sphere of art, and is subject to the laws of art ; the religious novel, to that of religious art, and is subject, not only to the laws of art, but also to those of reli­gion.    It is the subjection of art to religion that makes it re­ligious art.    It is very possible to intend to be, and to fancy we are, in the sphere of religious art, when, in point of fact, we are only in that of secular art.    We must have a clear view of the radical distinction between the two classes of art, or we shall not be able to say in all cases which is which. What, then, is the radical distinction between religious art and secular art ?    Both are aesthetic, both have for their primary object to  move and please, and both move and please sub­stantially the same elements of human nature.     So far they agree ; wherein do they differ ?    They differ precisely in that in which what is religious differs from what is secular.    The principle of the secular is the natural, and that of the religious is the supernatural.    The two species of art, then, differ in this, that in secular art, the principle of the effect, or that which moves and pleases, is the expression of the natural ; in religious art, it is the expression of the supernatural or divine. Secular art embodies only the natural, and it moves and pleas­es the sentiments and imagination by representations of the ob­jects to which they are naturally inclined, or which are nat­urally fitted to excite  and  gratify  them ; its  tendency is, to exalt and endear the natural, - to render our natural life more attractive and intense.   Religious art moves and pleases the sen­timents and  imagination by representations of a beauty  and worth which is superhuman, above nature ; and its tendency is, to lift them out of the natural order, to exalt us to a higher than our natural life, and to render more easy and intense the supernatural life of religion.    When the eflect produced pro­ceeds from the representation of nature, it is not religious, and the piece does not belong to religious art, although the artist may have aimed to serve religion ; because the natural or the human never by a natural cause does or can slide into the re­ligious.*(footnote:   * Our readers must not suppose that we mean to deny to the religious artist the usa of natural objects. He is at liberty to range through the whole of nature, and we are aware of nothing in nature that he may not lawfully use. All we contend is, that he cannot use natural objects as nature, and that they serve his purpose only as he supernaturalifces them, by informing' them with his own supernatural life.)   Religion is never a development of nature, or the natural exercise or affection of the human. It is always su­pernatural and divine. Pelagianism is a heresy. No motion or affection of sentiment, imagination, reason, or will, not from a supernatural principle as well as for a supernatural end, is a religious motion or affection ; otherwise, the infused habit of grace would not be necessary to the religious life. The religious act is done not only for God, hut from God. By his infused grace, God is in the actor, as the principle from which he acts, no less than before him, as the end to and for which he acts. It is in this we find the distinction between the religious life and the secular or natural life, - the life we live by nature. No life lived from nature is religious in the Catholic sense ; for God, not as author of nature, but as author of grace, is the beginning and end of religion, and we live from him, through him, for him, and to him, to whom belongs all the glory.
This being true of religion, it must be true also of art, in so far as it is religious. Art is the expression of the interior life of the artist. In his works the artist projects himself. The beauty he expresses or embodies in them he has first taken in and made integral in his own life, and in them he is simply attempting to realize without what he has already realized within. Such his life, such his art. Hence the reason why there is no Protestant religious art to which we can award the palm of excellence. Protestants are not de­ficient in natural endowments ; they do not want opportunity, instruction, or application, nor even the power to perceive and appreciate natural beauty ; but they cannot be artists of a high order, because they have not the true and beautiful in their own life. Their life partakes of the defects and defor­mities of their religion. It has no unity, no wholeness, no har­mony ; it is broken, incomplete, discordant, cold and weak, pale and sickly ; and so is and must needs be their art. They may feebly imitate, faintly copy, but can produce no master­piece. No man can express what is not in him. The artist must first incorporate into his own life that which he would embody in his art. Every painter, whatever else he paints, paints himself, as every writer, whatever else he writes, writes himself. The art does not make the life, but the life the art. The vast treasures of Catholic art, which the ages have ac­cumulated, in so far as truly Catholic, are only the expression of the interior divine life of the Church, which her children live by their communion with her, and which was as perfect before the expression as afterwards. Religion preceded the Gregorian and produced it ; the Church preceded St. Peter's and built it. The Church has produced and fostered art, but not for the sake of art, nor yet, as some would persuade us, for the sake of pressing the senses, sentiments, and imagina­tion into her service, but for the sake of communicating, through every possible avenue, her own supernatural life. The life was in her ; she would communicate it, and she embodied it in the chant, the cathedral, the picture, the statue, the hymn. Men beheld, and were ravished.
Religious art, it follows, must be the expression of the reli­gious life, and the principle of the life it quickens or fosters must be the same with the principle of the life it expresses. As, in secular art, the artist expresses or embodies the life of nature, so, in religious art, the artist expresses or embodies the supernatural life of Cod. This supernatural life, thus ex­pressed, tends to quicken or strengthen, in those who contem­plate the expression, a life like itself, proceeding from the same principle and tending to the same end ; and it is in this way, and in this alone, that art serves the cause of religion. But the artist can express no life which he has not ; if he lives not the life of religion, his art, whatever its theme, or what­ever the end he had in view, will remain secular art, and tend only to nourish the life of nature. The theme does not de­termine the quality of the art. Sacred words may be set to profane airs ; masses may be sung which recall the opera ; there are Madonnas which might have been portraits of the artist's mistress ; and we have seen prints from Paris intended to be pious, in which we detect only a human life, and which have little power to kindle devotion. No matter with what skill and genius the artist works, no matter for what purpose, no matter what subject he selects, his work is religious only as it conforms to the conditions of religious life, proceeds from and expresses the supernatural principle of that life.
It is here that religious artists in general, and religious novel­ists in particular, seem to us to err. We restrict our remarks to the latter. Religious novelists seem to us to suppose that it is lawful to apply to nature its natural stimulants, if the purpose of the artist be to aid religion, or if, at the same time that he offers them these natural stimulants, he presents the understand­ing some grand and solid arguments for the Church ; to pro­ceed on the assumption, that nature, as nature, nature without elevation or transformation by grace, may be pressed into the service of God, and made to contribute to a religious end. They appear to overlook the essential incongruity between nature and grace, and to be unaware that the affection of sen­timent and imagination by natural causes is wholly repugnant to that supernatural affection which alone is religious, and that, just so much as we have of the one affection, just so little must we have of the other. They appear to think that nature and grace are both of the same order, that they may be yoked to­gether and draw peaceably to the same end. But this is only another phase of that spirit of secular conformity to which we have already called attention, or rather, it is the very principle and root of that conformity, which the Church cannot coun­tenance, and which she does and must everywhere anathema­tize and resist.
Religion has always and everywhere tliree deadly enemies to combat, - the world, the flesh, and the devil. With these she must wage war to the knife in what is great and in what is little. Their spirit, wherever and in whatever guise it may appear, is opposed to her. But the natural in man, since the fall, inclines always to them. By the fall it has been turned away from God, and inclined to evil. Hence it is, that reli­gion always, and in all things, is obliged to resist nature, for the world and the devil tempt and injure us only in and through it. She is never that to which nature inclines, but is always that from which it is averse, and which it resists. Be­tween it and her there is and can be no alliance, no peace, no truce. It is only in so far as she transforms it, lifts it into the supernatural, and as it is held there by the power of Almighty God, that she can employ nature, or that it can serve her. She can never use it as nature, never trust it to itself, never let it have its own head in any thing. She must be not only supreme, but exclusive, or she cannot be at all. She can form no copartnership, even though placed at the head of the concern. Hence the stern and rigid rule of life en­joined by our Lord, and which all who would be his dis­ciples must follow. We are to deny ourselves, to crucify, annihilate nature, to live never, in no thing whatever, our own life, - that is, the life of nature, - but always, and in all, the new, the divine life of Christ our Saviour, who is our true life, the only life we can live whose end is not death. To this rule there is no limitation, no exception. " If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.    For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and he that shall lose his life for my sake shall find it."-St. Matt. xvi. 24, 25.
In this we cannot be wrong. The aim of the Church is, to liberate us from nature, and to subject us to grace, which is true freedom. " If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed."-St. John viii. 30. The saints are those in whom this freedom has been consummated. They are they who have crucified nature, heroically resisted and overcome it ; they who have trampled on it, denied themselves all the consolations, pleasures, and delights which proceed from it, or from its natural exercise. They have scorned and treated as evil all its delectations ; they have allowed themselves no con­solations, no delights, no enjoyments but those derived from divine grace, and have persevered unto the end in trampling on the life of nature, and in living only the supernatural life of God. They have loved God, not only supremely, - "above all things," - but exclusively, - "with the whole heart and soul." We know they have been right, for the Church de­clares it in the act of their canonization ; we know that there is no attaining to Christian perfection but in following their ex­ample. Art is Christian only as it has the same aim, only as it triumphs over nature, and tends exclusively to liberate us from nature, and to raise us above it. In so far, then, as it appeals to nature, proceeds itself from nature as its principle, and produces by its representations of nature natural affec­tions, it is not only not religious, but actually irreligious, tend­ing to make us more enamoured of our natural life, and there­fore more averse to the religious life.
This may strike bard at all profane art, and imply that it is not only not useful, but actually hurtful, to religion ; but if so, we cannot help it. It is not we who make all secular influences, as such, prejudicial to religion ; and we could not alter the fact, were we to contend to the contrary. Our life here has but one purpose, - to gain heaven. This is undeniable. We can, then, lawfully live only for heaven. We cannot live for this and for something else, too. This is not merely the principal, but it is the only end of our present existence. Is not this what we teach our children in the cate­chism ? " Ques. Who made you ? Ans. God. Ques. Why did he make you ? Jim. That I might know him, love him, and serve him in this world, and be happy with him forever in the next." Here is the end, the only end, for which God made us.    Words cannot alter it.    The fact is so, and so it will and must be. We may, if we choose, neglect this end, and live and labor for some other end ; but we have no right to do so, and cannot without acting contrary to the will of God, disobeying his commands, and falling under his displeas­ure, his wrath, and condemnation. But this end, we know, is gained, not by following nature, but by resisting and crucifying it, - resolutely, heroically, by divine grace, refusing to live its life, or to derive any pleasure from it. As our end is one and supernatural, and to be gained only by supernatural means, where is the need of what is profane, and what other than a hurtful purpose, as far as it goes, can it be expected to serve ? " Martha, Martha, thou art careful and art troubled about many things ; buj one thing is necessary."- St. Luke x. 4L.
If heaven were the development of our natural life, or if it were to be gained by the natural cultivation of our natural powers, the case would be different. Then secular art and literature might not only not injure us, but even be serviceable to us ; we could then join with M. Audin in his glorification of the Renaissance, agree throughout with Digby in his Ages of Faith, and even find something to sympathize with in the sen­timentalizing about Catholic art of Puseyites, and Anglican Kcclesiologists, who seem to suppose that they approach the faith in proportion as they restore to their ministers orthodox vestments, and provide them with a table fashioned after an altar. But no natural cultivation of our natural powers, scien­tific or aesthetic, advances us a single step towards heaven. To be able to admire Catholic architecture and music, or even to delight in our ascetic literature, is no necessary indication of Catholicity. The Unitarian does not make his meeting-house a church by inserting triplet windows, and surmounting it with a cross ; nor evince, by so doing, that he is approaching that " faith without which it is impossible to please God." The un­lettered rustic, or the rude savage, is as near heaven as the ' erudite scholar, the profound philosopher, or the accomplished artist. Indeed, mere human culture, without grace, only re­moves one the farther from God, and increases his difficulty of fulfilling the great and only purpose of his existence here. " Amen, I say unto you, unless you be converted, and be­come as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."--St. Matt, xviii. 3. "For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the prudence of the pru­dent 1 will reject.   Where is the wise ?   Where is the scribe ? Where is the disputer of this world ? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world ? For, seeing, that, in the wis­dom of Cod, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that be­lieve." - 1 Cor. i. 19-21. " And I, brethren, when 1 came to you, came not in the loftiness of speech or of wisdom, declaring to you the testimony of Christ ; for I judged not myself to know any thing among you but Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling; and my speech, and my preaching, was not in the persuasive words of human wisdom, but in the showing of the spirit and power ; that your faith might not stand on the wisdom of man, but on the power of Cod. Hovv-beit, we speak wisdom among the perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world, neither of the princes of this world, who are destroyed." - Ib. ii. 1-6. They who are foremost in natural science, wisdom, and refinement are usually the last to dis­cover and yield to true religion. They seek afar for what is nigh them, and where the good they seek is not to be found. The way of the Gospel is too simple and easy for them, and they scorn it. What they seek for, and rarely find, God re­veals to the simple. " Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones." - St. Matt. xi. 25. In giving us heaven, if we are so happy as to merit it, God does not reward what we are, become, or do by nature ; he rewards in us simply his own supernatural gifts, - crowns his own grace : - " Ergo coronal te, quia dona sua coronal, non merita tua." *(footnote: * S. Aug. Enarrat. in Psalm, cii. p. 7.)  Grace is all; nature, or its nat­ural cultivation, which is a purely human work, is nothing. We live, therefore, for heaven, only as we live the life of grace ; then there is no legitimate life for us but the life of grace ; for to live for heaven is the only legitimate purpose of our existence here. All, then, not of grace is not only not to be sought, but is hostile to us, is a clog, a hindrance, to our spiritual progress. Have not the saints told us so ? Is not this wherefore they turn their backs on nature, and trample on its pleasures ? And has not the Church sanctioned both their words and their deeds by canonizing them, and proposing them to our love and veneration ?
Doubtless, some will say, to evade the force of this, which is so clearly warranted by the lives of the saints, that all Christians are not saints, and that we cannot expect all to become so. This, unhappily, is too true ; but it is no reason why we should not labor to induce all to strive to attain to the full measure of heroic, sanctity we love and venerate in the saints. The smaller the number aiming at Christian perfection, the smaller the number that will reach it; and we who come short of it in our aims have but too much reason to fear that we shall come short of heaven in our attainments. All may attain to perfection, if they choose. Nothing hinders us but our love of the world, our attachment to creatures, our unwilling­ness to give up all we have and are for God, who gave up his own life for us. If we fall below the true standard of per­fection, it is solely because we do not choose to reach it, - be­cause we content ourselves with imperfection, and do not do as well as we might, and as the Church wishes and exhorts us to do. Our sole business here is, to strive after Christian per­fection ; and we have, if we do not refuse it, the assistance of the infinite God to gain it. Never should Christians aim at less. Never should we, who write for the faithful, propose less. Nor should we, who are not in religion, suppose that imperfection is more commendable in us than in those who are ; perfection is for us as well as for them, and the law of its attainment is the same in both. Whether, therefore, we live in the world or out of it, we must be careful not to live the life of the world, - make it our constant study, grace assist­ing, to deny ourselves, to crucify nature, to despise alike its pains and its delectations, and to live, not only chiefly, but ex­clusively, the supernatural life of God. All that is not for this supernatural life is against it. "He that is not with me," says our Lord, "is against me."- St. Matt. xii. 30.
We have now an infallible rule for judging all artistic produc­tions, to whatever species of art they belong, whether to architec­ture, music, painting, sculpture, poetry, or eloquence. All that is profane, or not religious, is hurtful in a greater or less degree'; and none is religious, save in so far as it embodies the super­natural life of religion, as the principle of the interest it excites or of the gratification it affords. With this rule before us, it is easy to determine the worth of Pauline Seivard, now in hand. If it comes within the sphere of Christian art, we have no grave objections to urge ; if it remains, notwithstanding the purpose of the author, within the sphere of profane art, we must, if we value religion, renounce it. The author may be saved, so as by fire, but his works must be consumed-    In order to judge Pauline Seward properly, we must eliminate the argumentative and didactic portion, and consider only the aesthetic portion ; because it is obvious, at a glance, that its interest does not arise from the logical discussion carried on, nor from the formal instruction on faith and theology conveyed. The author evidently does not rely on these for the interest of his work; for if he did, he would not have adopted the form of the novel. He has introduced the other matter, because he felt, that, if he had confined himself to these, and written merely a grave and formal argument for Catholicity, or against Protestantism, it would have wanted the interest necessary to make it generally read. These are not inserted to relieve the story, but the story is introduced to relieve these. The aesthetic portion is, therefore, unquestionably, that which is relied on as the principle of its interest, and the author's study has evidently been so to blend the aesthetic with the logical and didactic, that the reader shall not be able to secure the pleasure aflbrded by the one, without taking in the instruction afforded by the other.
As to the quality of the aesthetic interest and gratification of the work, there really can be but one opinion with those who take the trouble to analyze it. We are unable to find, in this respect, any essential difference between Pauline Seward and the common run of profane novels. Undoubtedly, it stops short of the extreme to which some of them go ; but the difference is solely one of degree, not one of kind. We readily admit that we can find in Bulwer, James, Dickens, and others, many things offensive to faith and morals, which we do not find in Mr. Bryant; but we find nothing in his novel, so far as it is not grave and didactic, which we do not, in princi­ple at least, find in them. Indeed, it must needs be so, from the very principle on which the writer consciously proceeds in its composition. He finds the public enamoured of novel-read­ing, that novels are the works in the greatest demand, and in which interest is most generally taken. He seeks to seize upon this very interest, and to turn it to a religious account. " If I write," we may imagine him to say to himself, " a purely religious work, which shall have only a religious interest, no­body will read it, and nobody will profit by it ; I must, there­fore, consult the public taste, and afford the public the sort of interest and gratification it demands ; only I will seek to mod­erate the degree, and, at the same time, make my novel the vehicle of some useful, moral, and religious instruction."   The work is, by its very design, an attempt to yoke together nature and grace, to make them draw together in the same team. But " thou shall not plough with an ox and an ass together." ¦-Deut. xxii. 10. What is here forbidden is, in its mystical sense, precisely what ilhe author has proposed to do. If lie pro­posed to combine the interest of the ordinary novel with re­ligious instruction, it was not possible for him to execute his design without making his novel, in so far as a novel, the same in kind with the profane novels of the day.
If we descend to details, we shall find that he has so made it. The scene is laid, and the characters are drawn, with ob­vious reference to the ordinary novel interest they may excite, and the natural gratification they may afford. If not, why is the scene laid in Mordant Hall, amid regal magnificence, and all the paraphernalia of wealth and fashion ? Why so much attention bestowed on the rank and worldly position of the chief actors, - so much care taken to endow those we are to like with all the personal beauty and natural attractions, and to furnish them with all the worldly advantages and accomplish­ments, which the author's experience or imagination could suggest ? Why, but because the author is aware that the great mass of his readers are fond of the world, hankering after wealth and fashion and worldly distinctions, and are gratified to be permitted to feast upon them, if only in imagination ? Suppose the scene had been laid in some poor man's hut, and the characters introduced to have been only very ordinary characters, in whom the reader could find only a spiritual or religious pleasure, - would not the quality of the interest of the work have been wholly changed ? The reader is deeply in­terested in Pauline, but how much of that interest is personal, and would be lost, if, without any change in her spiritual char­acter, all else were changed ? Suppose her deprived of her per­sonal attractions, her marvellous beauty, her extraordinary un­derstanding, and polite accomplishments, her exquisite taste and manners, and to be some poor, ill-bred, ill-favored, weather-beaten, hard-working rustic, knowing nothing of the great world, and familiar oaly with her ewes and lambs, poultry-yard or potato-patch, destitute of every particle of romance, ignorant as the child unborn of the fact that she has nerves, or that it is a lady-like quality to swoon or faint at every mis­hap or sudden emotion, too constantly employed in providing for the stern necessities of existence, to be poetic or senti­mental,- suppose her this, and suppose the question of her soul's salvation one day arises in her mind, and she undertakes to find out the true Church of God, and to comply with the demands of her Saviour, would not the interest excited by ihe story of her conversion, though not less to a right-minded person, be of an entirely different order from that which we now feel in the conversion of the marvellous daughter of the lordly Calvin Seward ?
The episode of " Little Marie " has much sweetness and tenderness. No one will dispute that " Little Marie " is a sweet and interesting child, and none the less so for her striking family resemblance to Oliver Twist and Bulwer's Fanny, half-sister to Alice ; but how much of the interest she excites is religious ? how much purely natural ? Give her the same spiritual character she now has, but let her be without her nat­ural sprightliness and beauty, and let it really be understood from the first that she is some pauper's daughter, just run away from the workhouse, and how much of the interest we now take in her would remain ? We know, as soon as she is introduced, that she is the child of distinguished parents, that she has had a beautiful and accomplished mother, that, some terrible reverse has happened to her, that a mystery hangs over her, and perhaps connected with her is a story of dark and powerful crime. All this every novel-reader foresees, and is certain of the moment she seeks refuge from the October snow-storm in Philadelphia, on the steps of Mordant Hall. We detect nothing of purely religious interest in all this.
The conversion of Pauline is an affair in which the reader takes some interest, but it is rather the interest of curiosity, and of simple humanity, than of religion. We see the girl is troubled in her mind, and we are afflicted that any sorrow should corrode the heart of so sweet and beautiful a creature ; she is engaged in solving an intellectual problem, and we wish her to succeed ; we are aware, that, if she becomes a Catholic, as we know beforehand she will, it will affect her worldly po­sition, and we are curious to see how she will behave herself, how she will bear the loss of her former friends and associates ; but we are made to feel little or no interest in regard to the danger she is in of losing her soul while out of the Church, or the infinite blessing she will receive by being converted and persevering in the love of God to the end. Her conversion is so managed as to make the reader half feel that it is the Church who needs her, not she who needs the Church.
Eugene Neville's conversion interests us chiefly by its relation to his union with Pauline ; and when both are happily con­verted, we feel much more impressed with the fact that two lovers may now marry and enter into domestic bliss, than that two souls are snatched from perdition. The story of Charles Neville, full of dark interest, is, as to its substance, virtually what one may read in almost any novel or magazine he takes up at random. It is the story of an ill-assorted marriage ; cru­elty, crime, abandonment, on the part of the husband, - pa­tience, suffering, destitution, and death of the angel wife, leav­ing a poor orphan child to be sent to the almshouse.
The author dwells too much on the worldly sacrifices which one makes for religion. His heroine says she does not count them, but we see that she does. He appears to think it a great thing that she found courage to stammer out an avowal of her faith in presence of her lover, who detested it. We have heard of Christians, - men, women, and even children,-¦ who avowed their faith, without stammering too, when they knew by avowing it they would be immediately put to the most excruciating tortures and death. What is it to lose wealth, social position, father, and lover, even to beg, to starve, and to die in the street for religion ? Does not one thus gain God for father, Jesus Christ for lover, and heaven for an everlast­ing home ? If we are Christians, why do we keep up such a mighty pother about the petty vexations and inconveniences we may be called for a moment to endure here ? The terrible struggle through which the author carries Pauline may be very natural, but why make so much of it ? Why not fix the attention on the grace which sustains, and the heaven which rewards, rather than on the pains that rebellious nature may suffer in being reduced to subjection, or, more properly, in having its head crushed ? Why not leave morbid anatomy to the physicians and surgeons ?
Poor Pauline's father is terribly angry when he finds she has become a Catholic, and disowns her as his daughter. No doubt of it; what better could be expected of the Presbyterian worldling, who cared for nothing but his social position and importance, and the worldly rank and influence of his daugh­ter ? But why represent Pauline as ready to fall on her knees and ask his forgiveness ? What in the world had the poor girl done that needed his forgiveness ? Was it becom­ing a Catholic, professing her faith openly, or being unwilling to wed a man who despised the Church of God ? We see nothing for which she needed to ask pardon, except for having even debated the question whether she should or should not consent to marry Eugene, and intimating that she might, if he would engage to respect her religion. For this she did need to ask pardon, not of her father, but of God. Every Catholic, man or woman, should regard marrying out of the Church as a thing not even to be thought of. Does the good Catholic ever debate a moment whether he will or will not do what the Church abhors ?
The author has interwoven with the story of Pauline's con­version several love-stories, from which a considerable por­tion of the interest of his book arises.    In these, it is due to him to say, that he has kept within the limits of conventional morality, and would not deserve any special censure for them, if profane love could ever be a proper subject for a popular work.    He has observed a certain moderation, we own,  in treating this dangerous topic, but the love of which he treats is in kind precisely that which makes up the common staple of profane novels, - the same that one finds in Bulwer, James, .Dickens, or any popular novelist of the day, - and it is idle to object to the extent to which others may push a principle which we hold in common with them.    The evil is not simply in more or less, but it is in introducing profane love at all, as a source of interest, in a work intended for general reading. No Catholic father is delighted to see his sons or his daugh­ters reading stories of love and marriage ; the ideas and fan­cies such stories rarely fail to suggest are sure to come soon enough  without  the  aid  of books.    We  do  not recollect a story of profane love, after the fashion of modern novels, writ­ten by one of the saints, nor a spiritual writer who recom­mends the reading of such stories as aids to devotion, or as helps against temptations.    " It is necessary," says St. Li-guori, whose authority we must think is not inferior to that of the author of Pauline Seward, " to abstain from reading bad books, and not only from those which are positively obscene, but also from those which treat of profane love, such as cer­tain poems, Jlriosto Pastor Fido, and all such works.    O fa­thers ! be careful not to allow your children to read romances. These sometimes do  more harm than even obscene books ; they infuse into  young persons  certain malignant affections which destroy devotion, and afterwards impel them to give themselves up to sin.    ' Vain reading,' says St. Bonaventura, 'begets vain thoughts and extinguishes devotion.'    Make your children read spiritual books, ecclesiastical histories, and the lives of the saints. And, I repeat it, do not allow your daugh­ters to be taught letters by a man, though he be a St. Paul, or a St. Francis of Assisium.     The saints are in heaven." *(footnote: * Instructions on the Commandments and Sacraments,   Boston : Thomas Sweeney.    1847.    pp. 152, 153.)

What a saint forbids fathers to allow their children to read, and what, if read, tends to extinguish devotion, no Catholic should ever permit himself to write. There are subjects which, if treated at all, must be treated only professionally and for the professional. The very fact, that love is a subject that awakes so general an interest in the great majority of readers, and is so easily made available by an author to carry oft' a very dull book, is itself a sufficient reason why it should never be made in any degree the subject of popular literature. It is strange that any person, instructed at all in religion, and not altogether ignorant of human nature, should for a moment think to the contrary ; and how our pious authors can recon­cile it to their consciences to send out works which cannot fail to deepen the malignancy of religion's most unmanageable and deadliest foe is what we are not able to understand. No mat­ter how small the flame, how skilfully or delicately we apply it to a heap of tow, the tow will be fired and consumed. As a father, as an humble Catholic, we entreat our authors to choose some other subject than that of profane love on which to write.
These remarks are sufficient to justify our former unfavor­able judgment of Pauline Seioard as a Catholic novel. But even the graver portions of the work are not free from faults of a very serious character. The author, in his second vol­ume, chapter xix., expressly, or by necessary implication, maintains that the Church has received no promise of impec­cability,-'that, acting as the Church, she can do wrong, has done wrong, and extensively adopted measures which involve a false and even an abominable principle in morals ; and he de-lends her by appealing from what she once was to what she now is, and ofFeis the circumstances and intelligence of the age, es­pecially in this favored country, as a guaranty against her fu­ture misbehaviour. We can conceive nothing more anti-Cath­olic than this. It involves a denial of the infallibility of the Church as a teacher of morals ; it denies her sanctity, asserts her reformability, and finally raises the age and country, in point of morals, above her, and makes them, instead of her, our reliance for the maintenance of justice. If this does not surrender the whole argument, and make it both impious and absurd to attempt to defend her as the Church of God, we know not the meaning of our mother tongue.
We are far from supposing the author was aware that he was saying all this ; we freely acquit the young gentleman of all anti-Catholic intentions ; but this, though every thing for him, is nothing for his book. In judging him, we must judge him according to his intentions ; but in judging his book, we must judge it according to the obvious and natural sense of its language. It is true, his language is loose, and, in some cases, we may charitably suppose the author does not mean all that he says; but, though we understand very well the meaning and duty of charity when judging of persons, we do not under­stand them in relation to books. A newspaper editor or a reviewer, obliged to publish at stated periods, often compelled to write in haste, and to publish his article before giving it its last finish, may rightfully demand a charitable construction of his language, and that the reader give it an orthodox meaning whenever it is by any means possible, without absolute vi­olence, to do so. But authors can claim no such charitable construction. Every man who can take his own time to pub­lish, who is under no obligation to hasten his publication, must submit to the law of rigid justice, and has no right to feel aggrieved, if, under that law, his works are condemned. Who compelled him to send out his work in a crude and unfinished state ?
We do not expect every man who writes to be perfectly master of the whole field of Catholic theology ; but we do ask of every author, whatever the subject of his book, to study to know enough of it not to run athwart sound doctrine. There is scarcely a popular book or pamphlet that reaches us, which does not contain propositions heretical, smacking of her­esy, erroneous, rash, or offensive to pious ears. Men and women, with a little knowledge, and much zeal, full of notions caught up from the age and country, sit down and dash off a novel, a pamphlet, or an oration, and send it out as Catholic, when the best we can say of it is, that it is "neither fish, flesh, nor fowl, nor yet good red herring." But we will not dwell on the evil of such works. No one has a natural right to attempt to edify the faithful from the press, any more than he has from the pulpit. We have no right to publish on re­ligion without permission ; and if the Church, through her proper officers, grants us the permission, and allows us the great honor of laboring, in however humble a capacity, in her sacred cause, both duty and gratitude should lead us to do our hest, and, above all, to abstain from saying aught displeasing to her, or embarrassing to any of her real friends. If we do not know Catholic faith and theology well enough not to compro­mise either, our business is to hold our peace, - the Church will not suffer from our silence, -nor shall we endanger our salvation by not speaking.
Mr. Bryant is not worse than many others ; he is far better than some. It was never our intention to single him out from his class, as especially deserving of censure. We, in the main, think very well of him. He has fair talents, respectable learn­ing, honest intentions, and a commendable zeal. But, as with ourselves, he did not tarry long enough at Jericho. His errors seem to us to arise from his having forgot, when he was about to put on Catholicity, to put off Protes'tantism ; and in his consulting the effect his work might have in enlisting the attention of here and there a Protestant, rather than its prob­able influence on our own Catholic youth, who, after all, will be its principal readers. The conversion of a Protestant is a great thing, but is gained too dearly if at the expense of a dozen Catholics. We may be wrong, but we adopt as our rule, to consider first of all the effect our writings will have on the faithful themselves, and, after that, the effect they may have on others. We all know that the work of converting those without is not, in this country, perhaps not in any country, the only spiritual work of mercy there is for Catholics to do. The conversion of a bad Catholic is as great a work, and one which causes as much joy in heaven, as the conversion of an infidel or a heretic ; and the preservation of our Catholic youth is as important as the gathering in of those without. As yet, we know, or may know, that, numerous as are the conversions from without, they at least no more than compensate for our losses. We are, then, it seems to us, to estimate works prin­cipally by their influence in making our youth abhor heresy and unbelief, love and practise their religion, and look with horror on the bare thought of forsaking it.
The principles we have laid down, and the remarks we have made on Pauline Scward, sufficiently indicate what a Catholic should think of novel-writing and also of novel-reading. If no dangerous topic is made the subject of its interest, if it be the expression of the religious life of the author, if it make the supernatural its principle and end, the work, though in the form of a novel or (iclitious narrative, may be written and read without detriment, nay, with profit, to religion, and that, too, even when its subject is not expressly a sacred subject, and nothing is said directly of or for faith or piety. But all other novels, even though professedly religious, we must re­gard as dangerous ; and the fewer we have of them, and the less they are read, the better. Instruction on other topics than religion proper, they who live in the world undoubtedly need, and should have ; but a profane art is not needed, and we see not how one who is Catholic to the core can aid in its production.